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Like humans also birds can suffer from a blood poisoning. Veterinarians and medical doctors
call this disease a sepsis. A blood poisoning is a very serious medical
condition which is caused by a severe infection that affects the whole body.
In general a sepsis occurs when germs like bacteria, viruses or parasites from a local inflammation, for example when there is a (tiny) wound at a bird's toe, enter the circulatory system via the blood. The infection reaches each part of the body and a systemic inflammatory response is the result. Due to this the organism is weakened and many bodily functions are disturbed. Typical reactions are for example circulatory disturbance, fatigue, decrease of blood clotting or even the total failure of inner organs. Also a state of shock ("septic shock") can be observed in affected birds.
Most humans can be healed when they suffer from a blood poisoning because in many cases the source of infection is visible. Infected wounds can easily be detected in general, but in birds they often are hidden under the plumage. Therefore it is very important to examine birds after any accident to be prepared for an occurring sepsis. If you find bloodstains somewhere, for example on the bottom of the cage or on a perch, then you should look for the wound. Watch out for any sign of an inflammatory process. In case one shows up you should contact an avian vet as soon as possible to prevent a sepsis.
How to avoid a sepsis
It is more important to observe one's birds carefully each day to notice any small wound immediately. Most wounds heal without causing any problems, but in case you see signs of an inflammation you should contact an avian vet as soon as possible. This is an easy way to prevent a sepsis or start to treat it in an early stage.
Please note that sometimes it is necessary to choose a radical treatment. If for example a toe is infected and it won't heal even though the bird is treated with an antibiotic, a sepsis may occur. To prevent this, the avian vet will most probably suggest amputating the toe or even a foot. After the source of infection is removed the bird will have to learn how to walk with the disabled leg but most birds accept their fate quickly and get along well quite soon after the amputation.
The photo below shows the infected foot of a budgie. As you can easily see one toe already is dead, the black colour is typical for so-called necrotic tissue. Regrettably even an amputation and an antibiotic treatment could not heal the affected bird. His name was Janni and he was just three months old when the sepsis occurred. Since there was no hope for him, his keepers brought him to a vet with a heavy heart. It was the last thing they could do for him, poor Janni has been put to sleep that day.
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